About the EXHIBITION an the FILM
_ _ _ DIAGRAM and STRUCTURE _ _ _
The Milchhof Diagram (MD) and Milchhof are two different but interrelated situations. The first is an exhibition and the second is a film. This exhibition exists according to específic parameters, occupying a certain space and a period of time, while film has infinite distribution. The Milchhof Diagram presents a spatial choreography, Milchhof on the other hand, expands and contextualizes the exhibition’s social, architectural and historical position. The first was conceived with Milan Ther and the second was a collaboration with Verena Kathrein.
In MD, I was confronted with a feeling of emptiness when negotiating formalism in dealing with the entanglement of past and current histories in Germany. Meanwhile the Kunstverein Nürnberg’s director navigated problems with budgets and lack of financial support for the institution.
The difference between a diagram and structure is what characterizes the dialogue between these two works. While the diagram opens and creates multiple connections (formal, associative, temporal, situational, etc.), the structure determines and insists on permutations and their subsequent repetitions. In the Neoliberal power systems, the subject is constantly trapped between diagrammatic and structural forms of control.
By charting viewers’ paths, their interstices and gazes, the film reveals a structural historical condition – the return or persistence of form. In the first room from the central entrance of the building, the viewer sees a matte black ceramic mounted on the wall. The space is illuminated by two light boxes, one on the floor, another hung on the wall. The images are photographs of a series of matte black ceramics, digitally manipulated and transformed. These three objects are connected with a black and white 16 mm film exhibited as a video projection loop on the adjacent room. The film reveals the use of formal analogies reshuffling fixed historical perspectives. As the viewer leaves the first part of the exhibition to go to the next exhibition room, they face a monumental altar-like glass window located in the atrium of the building. Semi-opaque pvc-filters, another element of the exhibition, are mounted on each pane of the large window reducing the presence of the anterior space, constructed in the early 2000s.
The windows of the main gallery have been covered by flattened cardboard boxes from Faber-Castell, the institutions former long time donor, to create a monochromatic container. In this black void, soundwaves modulate a dilution of the visual. On the first floor of the building, three fluorescent bulbs, light a space otherwise dark, to reveal three white monochromatic walls. Upon closer inspection, images of völkisch peasant scenes related to pre-industrial milk production appear in relief appear on these walls. Finally I placed a black and white photograph of an ocean wave on the second floor, like those of which the sounds continuously resonates in the black container on the ground floor encaged by hundreds of flattened Faber Castell boxes, bringing to attention the terminated economic relationship between the company and the Kunstverein, which lasted from 1964 until 2018. The photograph shows a wave frozen in the instant it is about to break, producing uncertainty about whether it will be audible, or quietly collapse. The size of the photograph is derived from one milky window pane which in the form of their ensemble both connect and differentiate the historic milchhof and its contemporary echo.
Milchhof does not have a previous script but it has scattered and fragmented footage of multiple everyday situations of the people who circulate in the building for one day in December 2018. These everyday events mostly show women working in different roles from office work to cleaning. These scenes are intertwined with an art historian who visits the exhibition that connects the three floors of the building changing the normal viewers' circulation of the official exhibition space. Meanwhile, MD dissolves the disparate exhibition rooms of the Institution turning the entire building into the exhibition, the viewers can experience Milchhof as a whole in its past and current condition. The most illuminated area of the exhibition, on the second floor, three industrial fluorescent lights were installed to illuminate a wall with a dense layer of white paint that was used to obscure three bucolic peasant scenes. Fluorescent lamps illuminate these scenes that once were painted as part of a program of elimination. The preservation of these white monochromatic contours reveals some resistance in cutting with a historic vicious circle that insists on emerging in different ways. While the apparatus of the state frames these architectural situations as part of their memory preservation program, they seem to be (un) aware that in insisting on preserving these white monochromatic images they are subtly stopping new forms of engagement. In Milchhof this historical wall seems to be trapped in the everyday world between two forms of labor, daily cleaning, and reconstruction.
The darkness the viewer experience in the void of The Milchhof Diagram (MD) modulated by the sound of the waves should not be illuminated by maniac historical cycles. It is this darkness that makes us able to be to create a world without a center. A diagrammatic exhibition unfolds into an expanded documentary affirming that human beings can always interrupt remaining visual symptoms of history, remind, decentralize and create new forms of interactions and perceptions. The wall located on the first floor of the building should stop to exist as monument that preserves history and it should exist as a wall as part of the exhibition space of the Kunstverein Nürnberg. Artists should be able to make interventions. Meanwhile The Milchhof Diagram (MD) iluminates and reveals a historical layer that should be taken off from the building, Milchhoff illuminate the walls of history reminding us how this building was once used. The historic imagery from the 1930s of flags carrying swastikas mounted on the building’s facade is related to this white monochromatic wall. The question that remains is why the State is clear about erasing Nazi flags but insists on preserving these now monochromatic national socialist panels that are invisible to people who circulate in this building.
_ _ _ Karin Schneider, December 2019.